Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 
Not So Very Different

Not So Very Different

Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke

There can at times be an attention-seeking particularism about Irish writing - look at us, and at how unique and how very interesting we are. But in terms of our post-independence economic history we are much like many comparable peripheral European states, with similar failures and similar successes.


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Descent into Darkness

Descent into Darkness

Magdalena Kay

Heaney’s Virgil certainly contains some of the verbal exuberance we associate with him, but some may wonder why there is not more. But Virgil’s Latin is known for its poetic decorum, which Heaney wishes to preserve rather than challenge. His aim is not to confound but to celebrate.

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Philosophy on the Boulevard

Philosophy on the Boulevard

Manus Charleton

The bloom of Existentialism may have faded today - though its presence is still felt in literary work - but fifty years ago every fashionable person wanted to learn about it, the Establishment fretted about it, and almost every journalist seemed to be using it to make a living.

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Steady As She Goes

John Mulqueen

From 1987 to the intoxicating highs of the Celtic Tiger, peaking in 2008, then crashing, there would be one political certainty in Ireland: most voters would choose a mainstream party in a general election. Even in 2011, the three established parties still dominated the scene.

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Sign Language

John Fleming

In his celebrated 1959 work ‘Mythologies’, Roland Barthes handed the reader a torch with which to illuminate for himself the semantic corners of his personal world. Peter Conrad, in his ‘tales for our times’, walks in the steps of the master and proves himself an entirely worthy successor.

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Knock, knock

John Bradley

Politicians sometimes consider that facing up to the consequences of their mistakes entitles them to be regarded as brave. But in the case of the Irish crash the warnings were there long before 2008. Hell was at the gates and the banging getting louder, but no one was listening.

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Ghost Frequencies

Bryan Fanning

Immediately a man dies for what he believes, Robert Lynd wrote after the death of Pearse, everything he has said or written assumes a new value and his words seem mysteriously laden with meaning, a ghostly bequest in regard to which we do not feel quite free to play the critic.

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The Critic as Colleague

John Swift

The exemplary career of Irish broadcaster Andy O’Mahony illustrates the role that can be played by the critic in the public sphere. Standing beside the novelist and the poet, he or she illuminates experience through texts, as the others do through plot and character or rhythm and metaphor.

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Republic of Lies

Tom Hennigan

Brazil’s Workers Party is smarting after losing its president through impeachment, accusing its enemies of mounting a coup. It would be better off engaging in stringent self-criticism and renewal, as it is still the country’s best bet for much-needed progress on social justice.

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Cold War Art

Brenda Moore-McCann

The Rosc art exhibitions, which ran in Dublin for twenty years in the second half of the last century, opened up Ireland to the experience of modern and Modernist art. But did the impulse for them come from the Congress of Cultural Freedom, and its ultimate paymaster, the CIA?


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Bunker Days

Witness Seminar

In December 1985 a number of Irish civil servants bedded down in a bleak office-cum-living quarters in Belfast, their job to oversee the implementation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. With protesters howling at the gates, they lived under siege, but gradually established good relations with many of their political and security partners.

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Making the Jump

Frank Barry

A ‘hard Brexit’ will undoubtedly create grave difficulties for Irish-owned businesses and ‘tariff-jumping’ foreign direct investment will come to seem an obvious response. Irish firms will establish operations in the UK, as Jacob’s, Guinness and Carroll’s have done in the past.

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Beyond the Failure Narrative

Philip O’Connor

A version of independent Ireland’s economic history which ignores the unfavourable starting point and then goes on to compare our performance with states whose circumstances were clearly different is more in the nature of a myth than a balanced historical account.

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It Looks Like You’re Writing a Novel

Tim Groenland

Home computing and word processing are now so taken for granted that it’s hard to recreate how big a deal their first appearance was. One writer compared the cost of his device to his daughter’s school fees. Another had to have the machine lifted into his house by a crane.

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Ministering to All

Thomas FitzGerald

Families and generations were often divided over the wisdom of making war on the British. One west Cork IRA man recalled his patriotic parents saying “in the name of God, are you mad taking on the British Empire?”. Like the people the priests were also divided, although their difficulties eased somewhat with the arrival of the unambiguously invasive Black and Tans.

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Spring Forward, Fall Back

Padraig McAuliffe

The optimism that attended the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011, and the inflated hopes invested in youth and social networks, have fallen away, replaced by a realisation that autocratic forces, particularly if they can buy military support, still have a future ahead of them.

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Birds of a Feather

Bryce Evans

At one formal dinner Ezra Pound became so bored he ate the floral decoration. At a restaurant meal with Robert Frost, he decided to show his fellow poet ju-jitsu, grabbing his wrist and throwing him over his head. No wonder he was starting to get on Yeats’s nerves.

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The Mad Muse

Matthew Parkinson-Bennett

An eccentric comic novel by a promising young Irish writer is stylistically ambitious, difficult and truly original. It’s a wonder it got published at all.

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The View from the Hill

Michael Halpenny

Based on an array of Irish and British contemporary sources, including papers and photographs from private collections, a new study of the revolutionary years in Howth and neighbouring communities combines academic rigour with the pace of an adventure story.

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The Kingdom of Water

Enda Wyley

A new collection from Noel Duffy sees his verse branch off from the more lyrical and autobiographical work of previous volumes to exhibit greater experimentation in form and theme, with subject matter ranging from physics and thermodynamics, to nature to individual lives.

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Proof or Imagination?

Frank MacGabhann

A new book on Casement’s Black Diaries refuses to consider the possibility that these were a forgery. One sad consequence of the focus on whether Casement was or was not a homosexual and engaged in predatory acts is that it detracts from his hugely important work as a humanitarian.

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That’s It, Folks

John Fanning

The last book from the late German sociologist Ulrich Beck offers a grim prognosis for our future as a society, with traditional political institutions helpless before the power of capital and the reactions of right and left devoid of intellectual content, functioning only to let off steam.

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Webs of Meaning

Mary P Corcoran

We manage our existence largely by conferring meaning on the world around us. World views play a significant role in motivating humans to engage in purposeful actions and our beliefs and dispositions have a shaping role in the constitution of society, broadly defined.

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There Shall Be Blood

Mary O’Doherty

Mentions of blood across the millennia are cited in a new medical history and the role of the microscope in the study of blood is recounted from the discovery of the lens itself through to early developments in its manufacture.

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Not Biting Their Tongues

Adrian Paterson

An exhibition at Trinity College Dublin shows the wonderful variety and vigour of writing about the visual arts in Ireland in the 1890s and the early years of the last century, a phenomenon which the prestige of more purely literary work tends to make us forget.

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Let’s Shop

Caoilfhionn Ní Bheacháin

An historical study of consumer culture across several centuries provides fascinating insights, but its desire to be value-free and non-judgmental leaves unresolved many important questions about the sometimes appalling human costs of global capitalism.

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Holding Out

Joseph O’Connor

Mary O’Malley’s poems have seen a thing or two, but the light has not gone out. They are honest, tough, tender, beautiful, alive to the redemptive possibilities of Ireland’s languages, tuned into popular speech and ready to walk into the world and find something worth loving.

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Cat Menagerie

Clíona Ní Ríordáin

Afric McGlinchey’s second collection revolves around a central conceit – the fisher cat, familiar of the fifteenth century alchemist Dom Perlet. Drowned by ‘vigilantes’ in the Seine, the animal reappeared with its master some time later when they took up their old pursuits anew.

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Suffer Little Children

Liza Costello

A collection of poems by Connie Roberts, who grew up in an institution after being removed from a violent home in rural Ireland, portrays her horrific childhood world both inspiringly and artistically, while refusing to ‘tell it slant’ or to ‘gussy it up / in Sunday-best similes’.

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After the Catechism

Carmel Heaney

Morality and moral behaviour, based on informed choices, lead to good laws and good policy. There is a concern that, if religious education disappears from schools, society could bankrupt the moral capital accumulated through centuries of Christian faith – unless we have something strong to replace it.

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The Malevolence of Occupation

David Lloyd

Palestine was once the hub of ideas, goods and people circulating through West Asia and North Africa: as a Bethlehem professor reminded us, the ancient caravan route used to pass nearby. Now he cannot even travel the twenty minutes to his former family home in Jerusalem without a special permit.

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A Bird Pipes Up

Billy Mills

There is always some question around the best, or perhaps the least-worst, way of translating poetry. One view is that translating verse into prose leaves out almost everything that makes the original worth reading in the first instance.

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Getting to Grey

Liam Hennessy

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.

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Astonished at Everything

Peter Sirr

Generosity and largeness of vision seem to meet happily in the poems of Uruguayan-French writer Jules Supervielle, which seem to cover great distances in short spaces.

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All or Nothing

Joschka Fischer

Those Germans who argue so vehemently against a so-called transfer union should realise that the EU has always been such a union. France got the CAP for its large rural economy and Germany the common market for its strong industry. Little has changed since.

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Birds, beasts and flowers

Gerald Dawe

DH Lawrence’s poetry offers a record of the powerful current of physical pleasure, the elusive joy of witnessing that which is different, and the kind of opinionated prickliness when things are not what they seem to be or should be.

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The Stilled World

Nicola Gordon Bowe

Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.

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You Have To Laugh

In Stalin's Russia an ill-judged joke could land you in the Gulag. Later on jokes could still be dangerous but were also in a sense a safety valve, a relatively harmless way for the downtrodden to let off steam.

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In the Bleak Midwinter

In the winter of 1784 in East Hampshire, it got so cold, the naturalist Gilbert White observed, that the cats became electrified.

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Right to the Bitter End

Asked what books he read, Donald Trump replied that he read chapters - chapters of what is not recorded. But should we feel guilty if we don't finish every book we start?

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The Revolution Eats Its Children

When you play with men, some of them get eaten, Napoleon said. The French leftist Régis Debray was convinced that some of his revolutionary friends got eaten by the Cuban revolution – for reasons of state.

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John Montague: 1929-2016

The New York-born poet wrote a moving poem of memory of the small place in which he was brought up by relations in a remote part of Co Tyrone.

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A Painful Case

In 1941, German Jewish mother and daughter refugees Margarete and Irene Brann decided to end their lives in London. The mother died but the daughter survived, and was charged with her mother's murder. On this day 75 years ago she was sentenced to hang.

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Ah Go On

Samuel Beckett was famous for his gloominess, but also on many occasions seemed able to express it in a way that makes us laugh. Is there a contradiction here, or not?

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Singing Schubert

There are times when interpreters should realise that explication is not needed. The composer and poet we exist to serve have told us what the message is to be. Our role is simply to deliver it.

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Uphill Battles

Sometimes in politics you lose, and then sometimes ... you lose again. But there is no alternative other than to learn some lessons and come back for more.

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The Bully

They have outlawed bullying in schools in Maine, but unfortunately have not outlawed bullies running for the presidency.

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Aspects of Solidarity

It is relatively easy perhaps to create a sense of coherence and common purpose in a group which sees itself as culturally, socially or politically uniform. But how can we create feelings of solidarity with outsiders?

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Posh Spice

Speaking clearly and enunciating one's vowels may not always gain one admission to a tennis club in which one is not welcome, but the experience of trying to learn how to do so can still be an enjoyable and memorable one.

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The Year Without Summer

The eruption of a volcano on an Indonesian island in April 1815 - the most explosive such event in history - had long-lasting and devastating effects across the globe. It is the subject of a conference in Galway this weekend.

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Kathmandu Letter

Public interest defender ‘LB Thapa’ can no longer practise the law. Subjected to death threats, he now lives anonymously with his family in poor conditions, but this is scarcely unusual, he says, for Nepalese lawyers who won’t lie.

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Under The Weather

So, it's autumn. No need to be depressed. There are apples, blackberries, damsons and bright, golden woodlands to be enjoyed for a few months yet before winter draws in.

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A Personal Vendetta

Thomas Dickson, one of three men murdered in 1916 by the possibly deranged Captain John Bowen-Colthurst, has been accused of editing an anti-Semitic Irish newspaper. The paper, ‘The Eye-Opener’, may have been scurrilous, but it is doubtful if it was anti-Semitic.

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The Fog Persists

A week has passed and we are no wiser about who exactly was behind Turkey’s attempted coup. This is scarcely surprising as we still don’t know who was behind the country’s previous coups either. One thing, however, is certain: President Erdoğan will use it to further entrench his power.

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New Books

Irish Literature

Featuring a full chapter extract from The Abode of Fancy by Sam Coll and a poem from Paula Meehan's new collection, Geomantic.

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World Literature

Featuring 2016 Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty's The Sellout.

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Irish History & Politics

Featuring Hell at the Gates, in which Brian Cowen, the late Brian Lenihan, Eamon Ryan, Micheál Martin, Mary Harney and many others recount in their own words the inside story behind the government's infamous bailout.

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World History & Politics

Featuring Final Solution, David Cesarani's sweeping reappraisal challenging the accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany.

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Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Paul Howard's I Read the News Today, Oh Boy, the extraordinary story of the young Irishman who was immortalized for ever in the opening lines of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'.

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World Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Loose Canon: The Extraordinary Songs of Clive James and Pete Atkin, an exploration of the lyrics and tunes that have won Clive James and his musical partner, Pete Atkin, a fanatical cult following.

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Ireland 1912 - 1922

Featuring Wherever the Firing Line Extends, Ronan McGreevey's study of the places where the Irish made their mark in World War I and are remembered in the monuments, cemeteries and landscapes of France and Flanders.

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More New Books ...